Display List of Open Network Connections on Mac OS Desktop

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So after a lot of requests from our users here is a guide about Display a List of Open Network Connections on the Mac OS X Desktop.

With GeekTool and lsof, you can display an automatically updated list of open network connections directly on a Mac OS X desktop. This is tip is a “safe” alternative to the previously mentioned open_ports utility.

The problem with installing and using open_ports is that it is a third party script that runs as root, which is unacceptable to many users. Here’s a method native to Mac OS X that doesn’t even require root access to view network connections:

First, if you want to ditch the GeekTool part and just have a quick look at open connections, you can quickly list all open network connections with: lsof -i | grep -E “(LISTEN | ESTABLISHED)”

You could also combine this with the ‘watch’ utility and just keep an eye on the open connections in a terminal window.

That part of the tip has been covered here before with regards to lsof, but the next part focuses specifically on GeekTool as it allows a constantly updated list of active connections to overlap with your desktop background.

View active network connections on the Mac OS X desktop

To do this, you need to install GeekTool, it is a free download and is a great addition to any toolkit for advanced Mac users.

Assuming you have now downloaded and installed GeekTool, it will show up in your system preferences. Here is now the installation procedure:

  • Click on “Shell” and drag it to the desktop, resize it to a reasonable area
  • Use the property editor to name the newly dragged shell as ‘View connections’
  • Under “Command” paste the following:
  • lsof -i | grep -E “(LISTEN | ESTABLISHED)” | awk ‘{print $ 1, $ 8, $ 9}’

  • Set your refresh rate to something reasonable, I chose 3 seconds, but you can do whatever you want
  • geektool setup for displaying open network connections

  • Adjust the font, font color and font size according to your desktop background

You will immediately see a printed list of active network connections on your Mac desktop that automatically updates itself, just like the screenshot at the top of this article. No third party scripts or root access required. The GeekTool script comes from the comments on the MacWorld article about open_ports that they haven’t tested. Very nice!

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Display a List of Open Network Connections on the Mac OS X Desktop: FAQ

Tutorial Summary: Display a List of Open Network Connections on the Mac OS X Desktop

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How this tutorial helping you?

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What is actual time in which this method complete?

The time to complete the Display a List of Open Network Connections on the Mac OS X Desktop tutorial is 10+ minutes.

What are the supported Device?

Apple

What are the supported Operating system?

mac OS


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